Published on February 22nd, 2013 | by Danny Concepcion, Contributor
Three Reasons To Check Out IndieCade
Last weekend we checked out IndieCade East in New York City. The indie game festival featured talks, panels, game jams and, of course, indie games. The games featured included everything from quirky hit, Thirty Flights of Loving, to the trippy PSN shoot ’em up, Dyad. Here are a few reasons to check out the festival when it pops up near you.
1. Meet, chat and network with independent developers
The event, hosted at the Museum of the Moving Image, had a casual and friendly vibe, unlike other large conventions like PAX and Comic-Con. You could, and are encouraged to, rub elbows and chat with developers while playing their games. The selection was broad enough that it covered almost every platform. There are even some popular mods showcased, such the Half-Life 2 mod, The Stanley Parable. So you can get some valuable face time with the developers and learn about different aspects of the development process. Many of the volunteers that keep the festival running smoothly are gamers and design students as well. IndieCade is a good place to make contacts with developers, aspiring game designers, festival organizers and even us lovely media folk.
2. Play that game everyone is talking about before it is released
Some developers essentially use IndieCade as a free playtest farm. And it’s not a bad idea. Die Gute Fabrik, developers of Sportsfriends, the Kickstarter-backed PS3 package of four games, did so by testing out how people liked its new Johann Sebastien Joust game types. Joust is kind of like tag. The game has no graphics. Instead it’s all about audio, and players interact by using the move controllers. The game plays classical music that randomly increases and decreases in tempo. The goal is to eliminate your opponents by shaking their move controllers, either by physically doing so yourself or by tricking them into making a sudden movement. But the twist is you can only move as fast as the music plays. While the music is fast-paced, players will scramble to hit each other’s controllers. And once it slows down everyone will instinctively switch to defense. It ends up being a fun mix of hit-and-run tactics.
At first people were hesitant to play the game in front of an audience, but after a very short while, it wasn’t uncommon to see attendees challenge their buddies to a round of Joust. The build we played supported up to six players at once. Gametypes include a free-for-all, three-versus-three and a mode where one member of each team is the “King” that must be defended. Events like IndieCade let you to get a taste of smaller games before they’re released, and for the more cynically-inclined, give you a chance to see whether your Kickstarter donations are worth it or not.
3. Play games you have never heard about
Now, Gorogoa is a little more difficult to explain. This puzzler by Jason Roberts requires you to arrange tiles — rather, comic panels — around and onto each other. The tiles contain illustrations that interact with one another in a number of ways.
Each tile essentially contain its own little world, which you can explore by simply clicking around to toggle between its foreground and background, or pan and zoom into important parts of each illustration. The goal is to find areas from within each individual tile’s world that would “fit in” with the others.
We know that sounds vague, so here’s an example: At one point in the demo we had to get an apple from a tree to a boy. One tile showed the boy and his basket. Upon clicking on the basket, the camera zoomed in on it so it filled the entire tile. Another tile showed the inside of an apartment, which had a painting of an apple on a tree branch hung up. Clicking on the painting made the tile zoom in on it. Then there was a third tile with an outdoor area, which also had part of a tree branch in it.
Putting the two panels with tree branches on them next to each other revealed that they could be seamlessly aligned, as if it were one big branch that spread across two panel. Then we dragged the tile with the bowl underneath the one with the apple. Once the tiles were aligned correctly, a bird flew down and perched itself on a branch in one tile, causing the branch containing the apple in the other tile to shake itself off the branch and fall down to the bowl in the third tile. It is kind of like a jigsaw puzzle meets Rube Goldberg machine, except each you are not plugging pieces together so much as you’re trying to find parts of the scenes within the tiles that seamlessly fit together. Does that make sense? No? Well the good news is that you can download the demo for Mac and PC and check it out for yourself here.
You can find a hidden gem like Gorogoa, beat your friends at the multiplayer games, and harass other developers with your elevator pitches. Besides that, it is a pretty good festival not just for indie game fans, but for those who don’t like the cosplay, long lines and the general madness that large conventions bring. IndieCade East has already wrapped up, but the festival pops up in different areas at least once per year. Keep an eye out for the next IndieCade near you.